TOG knives: Japanese craftsmanship, British design
We’re sure many of you can relate to the fact that once you have your first really good knife, there’s no going back. Whether you’re a blade enthusiast, seasoned chef or blossoming home cook, we know you’ll be curious to find out why we’ve selected TOG knives as our top choice.
This small British company takes ancient Japanese craftsmanship traditions, and uses them to make beautiful knives for the modern kitchen. As always, BuyMeOnce only selects items of outstanding quality, that you’ll find pleasure in using for years to come. And we have to say - TOG knives really go the extra mile.
Prepare to get a bit nerdy with us as we delve into exactly what makes these knives so special, from the unique materials and designs, to the amazing story behind them.
It starts in Seki
When British designer Bert Beagley-Brown went to Seki, Japan’s samurai sword capital, he was astounded by the level of craftsmanship that could be instilled into a single blade.
Following 800 years of tradition, Bert discovered that the creation of a samurai sword requires eight different craftsmen, each a specialist in just one part of the process. The best swords could take months to make!
Hiromune Takaba, one of just 18 swordsmiths remaining in Seki
By investing patience, time and care, and honing such high levels of expertise in every stage of creation, a whole new level of quality was achievable. So when Bert decided he wanted to develop the best kitchen knives in the world, he knew they had to be made in Seki.
Bert founded TOG, developing knives which are made the slow way. Following the philosophies of the swordmakers, these kitchen knives are passed between eight tiny, specialised companies in Seki. TOG knives elegantly blend old and new, and their handcrafted nature means that each one is slightly different from the next. In celebration of this, a unique number is engraved onto the bolster of each blade.
What makes a TOG knife so special?
TOG knives can be found in the restaurants and homes of professionals the world over (including more than ten Michelin star chefs). But what exactly is the difference between a TOG and your run-of the mill kitchen knife?
Layered steel that stays sharp
First of all, TOG’s full tang blades are crafted from unique 21 or 17 layer stainless steels, developed in collaboration with Seki craftsmen after extensive trial and error. The blades have a hard central core steel for sharpness, surrounded by softer steel layers for strength. Samurai swords are made using this same principle.
The core layer, which forms the cutting edge, is a highly specialised, high-carbon Japanese steel - called ACUTO 440 - which has been hardened to HRC 58-60 for edge retention. This means these knives stay razor sharp for much longer. TOG steels also contain alternating layers of copper, giving the knives their beautifully distinctive stripes.
Kebony maple handle
Combining durability and sustainability is TOG’s innovative choice of handle material: Kebony. Developed in Norway, Kebony is responsibly-grown wood that has been given enhanced properties. Using a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste, the wood’s cell walls are polymerised, making it highly durable, with characteristics similar to tropical hardwood.
Kebony wood doesn’t expand, contract or warp like other woods. As a result, the handle always feels smooth and flush with the full tang blade. This all comes at a minimal environmental cost, whilst still retaining a natural appearance with a beautiful wood grain.
And when it comes to handle design, TOG knives have been shaped to be extra comfortable to hold, with a unique ‘side scoop’ shape for added control. And finally, to celebrate old and new coming together – a key aspect of Japanese culture – a traditional pattern has been laser etched on for grip.
Light and balanced
TOG knives are wickedly sharp and durable, but they have been designed for comfort and ease of use as well. This means making a blade that is perfectly balanced and beautifully lightweight, so that it simply becomes an extension of your hand. No wonder TOG knives are not exclusively domestic blades, but are also found in professional kitchens worldwide where chefs might be prepping food for hours at a time.
A knife for life
TOG know that caring for a knife properly is absolutely crucial to getting the best experience with it and making it last. As well as providing in-depth guides for knife maintenance, they offer a very reasonably-priced sharpening and repair service should you require it. And, should any manufacturing defects or faults come to light, TOG knives are covered by a repair or replace lifetime guarantee.
We love this practical approach to product longevity, offering many ways in which to ensure the knife lasts as long as possible. When treated with love and care, these blades can be handed down from generation to generation.
TOG can afford to have utmost confidence in the blades they make, because it took a long time to perfect them.
When they sent their first ever prototypes to professional kitchens for testing, TOG told the chefs to give them hell. Under the pressures of intense use, materials failed, blades chipped and handles fell off! But with every prototype, TOG kept going back to the chefs - because they knew that when a knife could withstand a professional kitchen, it would be up to the task at home, too. After countless decisions and adjustments, the first TOG knife was perfected - and engraved 001.
What the professionals say
Today, TOG knives are loved by home cooks and Michelin star chefs alike. The incredibly sharp blade, outstanding edge retention, beautiful design and balanced comfort all speak for themselves. But, we thought you might like to hear from some professionals.
TOG continue to release new products slowly and deliberately, which has resulted in a tightly focused collection.
- Office: 3”/7.5cm paring knife - a nimble little knife perfect for paring, peeling and the precise slicing of small items like garlic or shallots.
- Petty: 4¾”/12.5cm utility/paring knife - a small, agile blade ideal for everyday paring and chopping fruit and small veg, light butchery and small fish.
- Santoku: 6½”/17cm multipurpose knife - a versatile knife ideal for everyday slicing, dicing and chopping of meat, fish and vegetables.
- Nakiri: 6½”/17cm vegetable knife - a characteristic Japanese double-bevel knife, optimised for chopping and dicing vegetables. Its thin blade slices easily, whilst the large surface allows for easy scooping.
- Gyuto: 8”/21cm chef's knife - a larger multipurpose blade ideal for mincing, slicing and chopping larger vegetables or disjoining large cuts of meat. The Japanese version of a general purpose chef’s knife.
- Sujihiki: 10¼" / 26cm carving knife - a thin, double-bevel Japanese knife designed for a long, smooth slicing action with raw or cooked proteins.
TOG also offer an expertly-developed knife sharpener in the form of a ceramic honing rod, for easy and effective knife maintenance.
Intrigued? Visit the outstanding TOG knife collection.
Shop our extensive high-quality kitchenware range.